Many people turn to coffee for a quick morning pick-me-up, as its caffeine content is well-known for its stimulating nature. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that boosts energy and can make you feel more awake and alert for 4 to 6 hours.
Researchers from the University of Toronto wanted to see whether exposure to items that remind people of coffee had any psychological effects. As it turns out, the answer is yes.
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“Coffee is one of the most popular beverages and a lot is known about its physical effects. However, much less is known about its psychological meaning – in other words, how even seeing reminders of it can influence how we think,” said Sam Maglio, an associate professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough´s Department of Management and the Rotman School of Management, both in Ontario, Canada.
A recent study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition examined whether being exposed to things that remind you of coffee can arouse your mind. To analyze this psychological effect, four studies were conducted by exposing visual cues of both coffee and tea to participants from Eastern and Western cultures. The result? It turned out that even thinking about the beverage aroused the brain.
“We wanted to see if there was an association between coffee and arousal, such that if we simply exposed people to coffee-related cues, their physiological arousal would increase, as it would if they had actually [drunk] coffee,” Maglio explains.
Psychological arousal is a term that describes parts of the brain getting activated into a state of alertness and attentiveness. This can result from many factors, involving neurotransmitters in the brain, emotional states, or caffeinated beverages, such as coffee.